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Full text of "The manufacture of aeroplanes in Hagerstown, Maryland / John R.M. Burger, Jr."

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John R. M. Bxirger, Jr. 




The manufacture of aeroplanes in Hagerstown, Md, , 
was begun In May 1926, when the first one was built. Prior 
to this date. A, H. Krelder and Louis Reisner rebuilt and 
repaired aeroplanes, but there was no raanufaetiiring. From 
experience in operating and rebuilding planes, the personnel 
of the Kreider-Reisner Company found many defects in the 
planes then in use. They proposed features such as horizon- 
tal stabilizers and complete cowling in of the engine, and 
many other featiires new to aeroplane design. 

A. H. Kreider and louls Reisner offered these 
ideas to the company with which they were associated, and 
finding the company unwilling to build 'along these lines, 
proceeded to enter into the aeroplane manufactiiri ng business 
themselves. The first plane manufactured was test flown 
from a very small field, and performed nicely from the 
start. Improvements were made and production of this type 
of plane began in August 1926, The biplane received nation- 
al recognition at the Philadelphia Ses(iul- Centennial when 
it won the Scientific American Trophy in sport plane races. 
Between Augast and the end of 1926, eleven aeroplanes were 
built, with the demand far exceeding the supply. In 1927, 
thirty biplanes were built. In 1928, one hundred and ten 
planes were built, with the demand still exceeding the sup- 



The Kreider-Reisner Company was bought "by the Fair- 
ohild Corporation of America in April 1929, and a plant of 
32,000 feet of floor space was built with a possible output 
of five himdred planes a year. One hundred and ninety- five 
planes were built in the year 1929. 

The Kreider-Reisner engineering genius, coupled 
with the Fair child experience, has produced aeroplanes of 
easy controllability and exceedingly rugged structure with 
light weight. The first biplanes built had water-cooled 
engines of OX- 5 type, while the later models are eq^uipped 
with either llfplght or Comet air-cooled motors. 

The Eairchlld KR planes have greater speed and 
climb faster than any other plane with the same size motor 
and carrying the same load, due to the selection of materials 
used, yet there is no sacrifice In strength. The fuselage 
is made of tubular chrome molybdenum steel as are many of 
the fittings, which Insxires maximum strength with minimum 

The biplanes are constructed by use of accurate 
jigs excluding internal strains and distortions and making 
all parts of the planes of standardized construction. 

Due to their light weight, easy controllability, 
and ability to stand up under hard usage, the Fairchlld KR 
biplanes are extensively used In student training, In barn- 
storming and in all kinds of flying where good performance 
with stamina and ruggedness is required. 




Prior to the year 1926 » there was no aeroplane 
manufacturing in Hagerstown, although the Kreider-Reisner 
Company repaired and rebuilt aeroplanes. From the exper- 
ience gained in operating these planes, the personnel of 
the company found that the planes then in use fell short as 
far as strength, stamina and the ability to stand up under 
hard usage in barnstorming, taxi work and student training 
were concerned. Yet, even with such req_uirements, they 
realized that the planes should have lighter weight so that 
larger loads could be carried and the performance improved. 
The ICreider-Reisner Company foiind that there was a need for 
more controllability which they realized could be secured 
by general refinement of design and eonstruetion in the con- 
trol system. They also proposed other features such as a 
horizontal stabilizer, adjustable from the pilot's cockpit, 
and the complete cowling in of the engine; also, a center 
section arid a door for the front coolcpit, 

A. H. Reisner and Louis Reisner offered their 
ideas to the company for which they were then dealers, but 
they found the company unwilling to build aeroplanes along 
these lines. Accordingly, these two men entered into the 
manufacturing of planes on their own account, I¥om their 
own experience as pilots, they knew just what other opera- 
tors could use to advantage and thus they proceeded to build. 




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The first aeroplane was "built in a plant of about 
250 ajuare feet of floor space, Tliis plane was test flown 
in Ifey 1926 from a field measuring 250 by 700 feet, lying on 
the side of a hill with obstacles on three sides. This plane, 
with a water-cooled motor, was a biplane as are all models 
made in Hagerstown, and it performed from the start. It was 
flown all over the Uorth Atlantic States and pilots at every 
field were asked to fly it and give constructive criticism. 
Finally, after all improvements that could be made were in- 
corporated, production began in August 1926. This production 
model embodied one hundred and fifteen suggestions that were 
obtained. Between August and the end of 1526, eleven aero- 
planes were manufactured, which were known as the Kreider- 
Reisner Challengers, This plane received national recogn^i- 
tion at the Philadelphia Sesq_ui- Centennial in 1926, when it 
won the Scientific American Trophy in the sport plane races. 

In the year 1927, thirtj' aeroplanes were manufac- 
tured and there was a demand far exceeding the output. In 
1928, one hundred and ten aeroplanes v;ere manufactured and 
the demand again could not be met, 


In April 1929, the Kreider-Reisner Company was 
bought by the Pairchild Corporation of America, and since 
that time the planes are known as the Fair child KR aero- 
planes. The Fairehild Company immediately proceeded to 
build a plant with a floor space of about 32,000 square feet. 


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In the new building is modern product ion machinery and the 
aeroplanes have all the gualities of Kreider-Reisner plus 
Fairchild processes and methods. The nev/ plant is capable 
of producing five hundred planes in a year, and in 1929 
about two hundred planes were manufactured. 


The new Hagerstown plant of the Fairchild Corpora- 
tion has approximately 32,000 square feet of floor space and 
is of the latest type of industrial structure of brick and 
steel with generous provision for light. One large section 
of the plant is devoted to development engineering. This 
section is so constructed that an entire aeroplane can be 
built without disturbing the regular factory production In 
any way. Improvements and refinements are constantly studied 
In this section. The fuselage jig In the plant in Hagers- 


town Is a masterpiece of efficiency and yet simplicity in 
design. This Jig eliminates internal strains or distor- 
tions of any kind. Fittings and attachments are all Jig 

F^6£l/^G£ jig. 


The Fairchlld KR biplanes are noted for their 
sparkling performance in relation to their power plant and 
load. They get off the ground quicker, climh faster and 
show more speed in air than any other plane with the same 


power plant and carrying an equal load. To obtain the qual- 
ities necessary for greater performance, the biplanes are 
very light In weight, yet there has been no sacrifice of 
strength or ruggedness. The fuselage, landing gear and 
other metal parts are of chrome molybdenum steel, giving 
maximum strength with minimum weight. Fittings are of chrome 
molybdenum steel wherever the use of this material malces pos- 
sible a saving In weight. In changing from carbon steel to 
chrome molybdenum steel, fourteen pounds in weight was saved 
on fittings alone. It is a policy of the company to save a 
pound In weight whenever it does not impair the strength of 
the structure. 


Besides greater performance, Kreider-Reisner planes 
are also very easy to control, which explains the fact that 
this type of plane is used very extensively for student fly- 

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Ailerons of narrow cord and "uimsual length, properly de- 
signed, along with elevators and a rudder also properly de- 
signed, give a control superior to that ordinarily found on 
commercial aeroplanes. For stunt flying, tapered wings are 
used and ample control surface, giving unusual maneuverabil- 


The fuselage of the Fair child KR planes is made 
from seamless steel tubing and tube braced. The use of 
chrome molybdenum steel for the tubing makes possible a 
structure of unusually light weight. Correct design and 
welding in absolutely accurate jigs insure a standardized 
product. The fuselage Jigs are masterpieces of simplicity 
and accuracy and make possible quantity production of stand- 
ardized units. All attachment lugs and fittings, such as 
the step to the pilot's cockpit, door hinge, emergency tail 
skid, are Jig welded to the fuselage frame. Fittings and 
lugs are made from chrome molybdenum steel, also. The bear- 
ing surface Is made large so that wear is reduced to a mini- 
mxira on all moving parts. The total weight of fuselage com- 
plete with fittings is only ninety pounds. After welding, 
the entire fuselage is sand blasted before a coat of oil- 
base primer is applied. Two coats of dope and two of lac- 
quer are applied to the fuselage. The fuselage is sealed 
tightly to prevent moisture entering and starting Internal 


corroslon, A feature of a new model plane not yet in produc- 
tion is a system for automatically oiling the interior of the 
fuselage tubing. 


The wings of the P^irohild IS plane are of correct 
aerodynamic design, light in weight , and strong and rigid in 
structure. The ribs are of the Pratt truss type with gussets 
of three-ply mahogany on either side of the truss members to 
give a balanced structure. Chrome molybdenxim lift wire fit- 
tings and drag wire terminals give members of great strength 
but light weight. The entire wing is Ilonoiled before being 
covered with fabric. The covering is Grade "A" oloth and 
it is protected with five coats of clear dope, two of pig- 
mented, and two of laoq^uer. The wing covering is put on 
with the joints crosswise and is sewed together and two -inch 
tape is pasted over the seams to make the wings water-proof. 
Small holes are provided beneath the wings to let out water 
in case some seeps in. 


The tail surfaces are of welded steel tubular con- 
struction with chrome molybdenum steel tubing for all torque 
members. All models are equipped with a horizontal stabil- 
izer, adjustable from the pilot's cockpit. It has a minimum 
of working parts and req^uires little, or no attention. A 
three-point attachment of the leading edge of the stabilizer 
is provided, completely preventing vibration. 



The landing gear of the Kr eider-Re isner planes is 
designed to smooth out rough landings and malce taxiing easy 
and yet have a strength necessary to stand the knocks given 
a training plane. Since there is always work to "be done to 
landing gears and tail skids, the J^irchild KR planes are 
Imilt with this thought in mind and are provided for easy 
maintenance. The tail skid has full swivel so that the 
planes may make a quick stop when landed. An emergency tail 
skid is also provided as may be seen on the picture "below. 

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The tall slcld Is relatlTely simple in construction "but 
stands up well and is very effective, 


Both the front and rear cockpits of the FfeLirchild 
KR "biplanes are spacious, providing ready accessibility to 
all controls and instruments and also for the comfort of 
passenger and pilot. Dual controls in the front cockpit 
are readily removable. The seats are deeply unholstered 
and parachutes can be worn with comfort. The sides of the 
coolcpit are made to fit to the shoulders of pilot and pas- 
sengers and are cut away to give free vision to the side 
and downward. Streamline windshields of sturdy construc- 
tion eliminate drafts. The front cockpit door is of steel 
tube construction, being built in a Jig so that it is abso- 
lutely acctirate. A twenty- four inch walkway on the left- 
hand lower wing is used to enter the front cockpit, protect- 
ing the wing, A concealed step built into the fuselage 
frame, covered with a spring cover, makes access to the 
pilot's, or rear, cockpit easy. 


By carefal design and construction and by care- 
ful attachment of the engine to the frame, the Fairchild 
KR planes are made to fly smoothly even though the engine 
happens to miss on one cylinder. This is another feature 
where this biplane excels others on the market. 



The cowling Is machine made and is neat in appear- 
ance. It is smoothed out tmder power hammers in oast iron 
dies. Eighteen gauge, or extra heavy sheet aluminum, is 
used. The outside edges of the cowling are beaded to insure 
stiffness. Section edges of the cowling are wire rolled to 
give stiffness, neatness of finish and perfect fit. All 
cowling supports and attachment points are rigidly welded 
structures and form a part of either the fuselage frame or 
engine mount. Each section of the cowling is independently 
removable, a very advantageous feature as it makes inspec- 
tion very easy. Inspection doors are provided on all points 
where freq^uent inspection or access to the engine is desir- 

Vie^kv With Sscr/o/t of Cowjl//vg /t?£/vio/f£> 



The gasoline and oil systems of the Pairchild KR 
planes are very unusraal and are not foimd in most other planes. 
The gasoline tanks are of terne plate, rustless and non- 
corrosive, and are gravity- fed. A strainer and a oombined 
tank s\imp and water trap keep the system free from dirt and 
water. This device is readily accessible for draining by a 
door in the cowling. The gasoline hose is fitted with hose 
liners at Joints, preventing the possibility of pieces of 
rubber coming loose and clogging the line. Oil tanks are 
built large so that they permit the carrying of oil far in 
excess of the amount necessary for operation as determined 
by the gasoline supply. This insures a cooler supply of 
oil under unusual flying conditions. The tanks are readily 
accessible for servicing as there is no fixed cowling to 
remove. Hose liners are used in all Joints In the oil hose. 


All metal parts are sand blasted and given two 
coats of metal primer. After drying and sanding this, two 
coats of lacquer are applied. The wings, fuselage and tail 
surfaces are covered with the highest q^uality of Grade "A" 
aeroplane fabric, and nine coats of nitrate dope and fin- 
ishes are used. The first two coats which are clear dope 
are brushed on; the third, fourth and fifth, also clear 
dope, are sprayed; then two coats of aluminum dope are 
applied, and this is followed by two coats of finishing 


laoquer to give the desired color. This makes a finish 
very smooth, flexible and long wearing. 


In the construction of the Falrchild HI biplanes, 
all materials are carefully selected, with Army and TTavy 
specifications adhered to. The raw materials are inspected 
rigidly as are the serai-finished parts, in order to make 
sure that all material Is of the highest quality. The final 
inspection of the finished product is very complete and care- 


There is a luggage compartment of rather large 


slze on all Fairohild KR "biplanes, giving ample space for 
tools and other Items. The light weight and high load- 
oarrying capacity of these aeroplanes make it possible to 
utilize baggage spaces even with a full load of passengers, 
and still secure good performance. 

Lubrioatlon of all moving parts is assured through 
the use of oil cup fittings and removable bushings are pro- 
vided where unusual wear occurs. Viflndows on all control 
bearing points make inspection easy. Drop pans under the 
fuselage make it easy to Inspect the main control points 
and to clean the floors of the cockpits. 


The Fairchild KE-34, the biplane now in oonstruc- 
tlon, is powered either by a V/right J-6, 150 H. P. Engine, 
at 2,000 r.p.m,» or a Comet Engine of 130 H. P., at 1,825 
r.p.m. The propellor is metal. The speeds with the two 
motors are 130 and 120 miles per hour, respectively, with 
the rate of climb (loaded) 886 feet per minute with the 
Wright Engine and 615 feet per minute with the Comet Engine. 
The seating capacity is a pilot and two passengers, and the 
disposable load of each is about 1»000 pounds. The gasoline 
capacity is 50 gallons, and oil Is 4 gallons. Bendlx type 
brakes are used. The wheels are 30 x 5. Standard e<iuipmeht 
includes airspeed, altimeter, compass, dash gasoline gauge, 
booster starter, tachometer, dual control, wheel brakes, 
engine cover, oil pressure and temperature gauges, cockpit 
covers, logbook, tiedown ropes, complete tools, first aid 




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kit, fire extinguisher, engine instruction "book and wiring 
for navigation lights. The wing spread is thirty feet and 
faselage is nineteen feet long. All planes are manufaet-ured 
under Approved Type Certificate Ko, 260, from the Hagers- 
town Chamtier of GonuHerce. 

At the present time, one hundred and ten (110) 
men are employed by the Fairohild Corporation in Hagerstown, 
Business is continually expanding, and It Is predicted that 
within a very few years aeroplane building will be the 
leading industry in Hagerstown, Md. 



Magazine from Sales Department of Fairchlld Corporation 

of Amerioa. 
Observations made and notes taken in the Hagerstown 

plant of the Fairohild Corporation,